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BRIT names sustainable winegrowing awards for 2017

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The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)’s 2017 International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing has been named, with the platinum medal goes to Yealands Family Wines of Marlborough, New Zealand.

The award is based on the winery’s on-going programs that address the three elements of sustainability: environmental, economic, social – and the taste of the wine.

Yealands’ achievements in sustainability include being the world’s first winery certified carboNZero as well as operating New Zealand’s largest solar array: generating over 411 kilowatts of power while offsetting 82 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2). Other innovative sustainable programs include: wind-powered energy; using a flock of miniature Babydoll sheep to graze in between vines rows reducing the need for mechanical mowing; installing floating solar-powered lighting in its wetlands which attract grass grub beetles thereby reducing the need for chemical pesticides while protecting the grapevines; and burning vine pruning’s instead of propane gas thus eliminating over 180 tons of CO2 per year.

The awarded wine was Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2016.

“Yealands’ list of sustainable programs is long and impressive. That takes commitment and vision,” said Ed Schneider, BRIT’s president and director. “Peter Yealands’ goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable winegrower could only be slightly upstaged by the quality of his wines.”

Established in 2008, Yealands Family Wines is located in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough and is New Zealand’s most coastal vineyard. It is part of the Yealands Wine Group which was formed in 2011 when Yealands Estate acquired Hawke’s Bay boutique winery, Crossroads, and The Crossings. The combined entity is now one of the largest privately-owned wine companies in New Zealand, with a global reach of more than 70 international markets.

Additional BRIT sustainable awards went to:

Gold medals

• Halter Ranch Vineyard, California. Halter submitted its 2014 Halter Ranch Ancestor.

• Bodega Tapiz, Argentina. Tapiz submitted its 2013 Tapiz Alta Collection Malbec.

• Château Couhins, France. Château Couhins submitted its 2015 Château Couhins white

Silver medals

• Muratori, Tenuta Villa Crespia, Italy. Muratori submitted its Simbiotico Villa Crespia Franciacorta Brut sparkling wine.

• Grupo Matarromera, Spain. Matarromera submitted its 2015 Granza Verdejo.

• Bien Nacido Vineyards, California; Bien Nacido submitted its 2012 Pinot Noir.

• Ruffino, Italy. Ruffino submitted its 2011 Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti.

Competition for BRIT’s 2017 international award began July, 2016, when wineries submitted applications documenting their sustainable programs relating to environmental, economic, and social aspects of grape growing, and wine production along with their wine samples.

Presentation of the platinum award to Yealands Family Wines will be made on Thursday, March 30, during the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival at the W. R. Watt Arena in Fort Worth and will feature a first ever, 1,000-person toast to the winner.

BRIT’s 2018 sustainable winegrowing competition begins May 1, 2017 The submission deadline is July 31, 2017.

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